Visual Glossary

Recording and identifying military, security and police (MSP) equipment used in human rights violations, torture and ill-treatment might provide the only evidence to prove that the incident happened and help identify the perpetrators. However, there is a lack of reporting “tools” to help people do this. This glossary is designed to help human rights monitors, researchers, campaigners and journalists recognise the different types of equipment used by law enforcement officers and accurately report on the equipment.

We recommend that the glossary is used in conjunction with (, an image database which contains more information about the equipment featured in this glossary and Amnesty International’s Monitoring and Investigating Equipment Used in Human Rights Abuses.

What is covered in this glossary?

This glossary is split into sections, with each section covering a different type or “group” of equipment. “Groups” of equipment covered in this glossary include: electric shock equipment, restraints, launchers for chemical irritants, kinetic impact and other munitions, chemical irritants, and kinetic impact weapons (launched & handheld).

Please note that although these “groups” of equipment are often referred to as “less lethal” or “less than lethal”, they can still cause serious injuries and death, even when used as the manufacturer intended.

As with all types of technology, MSP equipment changes over time so this glossary will be periodically reviewed and updated to include new and emerging MSP technologies. 

Further information on the categories of the equipment can be found here and a table of all the terms used English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese can be found here.

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Uses compressed air to launch specially designed small plastic projectiles with metal filled nose and irritant payload. Launches dye marking, OC, “impact”, and CS+OC rounds. Semi-automatic with a 15-round circular magazine. Also sold as an under-barrel attachment for conventional rifles.
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Fires hot PAVA, training powder, water, or dye marking Pepperball projectiles. Averages 700 rounds per minute in full automatic mode. CO2 powered.
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CO2 powered. Fires pepper balls, rubber balls, training balls and rechargeable electric bullets which administer an electric shock.
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CO2 powered. 10-round magazine. Fires hot PAVA, training powder, water, dye marking or glass shattering Pepperball projectiles.
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Launches FN303 projectiles (see Section 4) using a CO2 cylinder incorporated into the magazine. Also available: pistol version. Picatinny rail for easy attachment of sights, fore grip, and other accessories.
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